Spotify acquires Dublin-based Kinzen to keep an ear on harmful content

Matthew N. Henry

Spotify said the start-up’s ‘unique technology’ will help it better understand the abuse landscape and identify emerging threats on the platform.

Spotify has acquired Dublin-based start-up Kinzen to improve how the streaming platform detects harmful content.

Kinzen combines human expertise with machine learning to help analyse and identify misinformation and harmful content in 28 languages and markets.

The company was founded in 2017 by Mark Little, Áine Kerr and Paul Watson. The start-up began as a news curation service but has since pivoted to tackle harmful content. Kinzen says on its website that it can identify and respond to violations and “unexpected crises with speed and precision”.

Spotify said the start-up’s “unique technology” is particularly suited for podcasting and audio formats, making it a valuable acquisition for the platform. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kinzen first partnered with Spotify in 2020 to help deal with misinformation on the platform. The Dublin start-up also joined Spotify’s Safety Advisory Council, which was formed earlier this year to help shape the platform’s content moderation policies.

Spotify noted the complexity of analysing content in hundreds of languages and the challenge of evaluating the intent of that content. The streaming company said the acquisition of Kinzen will help it better understand the abuse landscape and identify emerging threats on the platform.

“Working together as one, we’ll be able to even further improve our ability to detect and address harmful content, and importantly, in a way that better considers local context,” said Spotify global head of public affairs Dustee Jenkins.

“This investment expands Spotify’s approach to platform safety, and underscores how seriously we take our commitment to creating a safe and enjoyable experience for creators and users.”

This isn’t Spotify’s first acquisition in the Irish market. In 2016, the company acquired Dublin start-up Soundwave, which developed technology to track what songs people listen to in real time.

It’s also not the first acquisition for Little, who previously founded Storyful in 2010. This social media news agency was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2013.

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